Cigna's Evernorth to acquire telehealth company MDLive

Cigna will acquire telehealth platform MDLive, the insurer announced Friday morning.

Cigna has been a longtime partner of and investor in MDLive and will fold it into its Evernorth subsidiary, which houses its health services business. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021, pending regulatory approvals.

Cigna said that it expects to deliver $20 in earnings per share this year, including impacts of the acquisition, and will present additional details about the deal at its investor day on March 8.

The insurer said the addition of MDLive will enhance Evernorth's ability to offer "a more affordable, convenient and connected patient care experience."

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"Customers expect more convenient care interactions, and COVID-19 has rapidly accelerated this need. We see an immediate opportunity to build a new model of care delivery, one that delivers a connected experience with greater affordability, predictability and simplicity," said Tim Wentworth, CEO of Evernorth, in a statement. "With the opportunity to serve millions more people, and with more personalized ways to deliver care, we will have an even greater impact on our customers, clients and partners."

“Combining MDLIVE’s platform and strong network for virtual providers with our comprehensive care solutions, we will be better positioned to optimize the care journey to improve affordability and accessibility, and to deliver superior support to health plans as they advance their own care delivery models for the future," Wentworth said.

The telehealth and virtual care market has been growing due to the pandemic, which has dramatically increased interest in and demand for virtual visits as patients seek to stay home. MDLive banked $50 million in funding, led by Sixth Street Growth, in September to continue building out its virtual primary care platform.

Since its 2009 launch, MDLive has brought in $174 million in funding, with Cigna's investment arm Cigna Ventures as a leading investor.

In 2020, MDLive saw its virtual visits up 95%, and total bookings were up 300% due to the increased demand during COVID-19. Behavioral health visits have been particularly in demand.

Through the acquisition, both companies believe that they can drive earlier identification and diagnosis of chronic care needs, make faster referrals to high-quality providers and ensure patients have access to appropriate and affordable site of care, according to the announcement.

“Becoming part of the Evernorth portfolio is an opportunity for MDLIVE to join an organization that complements our work, and has been a long-time partner and investor in our business,” said Charles Jones, CEO of MDLive, in a statement. “Together, we can accelerate MDLIVE’s growth strategy and ability to serve more customers, while also building new services that will benefit our existing stakeholders, including employees, partners, patients, customers, health plans and providers."